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Four Students Awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Four University of Tennessee, Knoxville students have been selected to be a part of the 2021 National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

The students receiving fellowships are:

Jackson Spurling of Norris, Tennessee—Materials Science and Engineering. Spurling’s research uses electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, and other tools to better understand the structure of materials and their properties. The goal of his research is to study high-entropy oxide materials.

Jacob Summers of Pleasant Shade, Tennessee—Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology. The goal of Summers’ research is to use structural biology and biochemical methods to uncover the evolutionary divergence of collagen IV proteins among eukaryotes. This work will aid in understanding the unique structural features and mechanisms employed by various forms of this highly-conserved protein.

Erica Waters of Maryville, Tennessee—Mechanical Engineering. Waters is researching rehabilitation and assistive robotics to help individuals with disabilities. Her work seeks to establish a relationship between kinematic data of upper-extremity reaching and task-specific self-efficacy, with the goal of improving post-stroke patient monitoring in the ambient environment and reducing harmful compensatory strategies such as learned nonuse of a paretic limb.

Maryrose Weatherton of Milwaukee, Wisconsin—Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Weatherton’s research examines aspects of the graduate student experience and equity within higher education. Her project will focus on the resources graduate students use within their programs and how certain student characteristics and outcomes may be aligned with patterns resource use. The overall goal of the project is to identify patterns of resource use that can be leveraged to help minoritized students succeed in higher education.

In addition, six UT students received honorable mentions:

  • Conner Whitten—Psychology
  • Amy Luo—Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Jordan Cannon—Microbiology
  • Promise Adebayo-Ige—Nuclear Engineering
  • Marcus Harrell— Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology
  • Peyton Hickman—Microbiology

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program supports outstanding graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields who are pursuing research-based graduate degrees. As the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind, GRFP has a history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success academically and professionally.

Since 1952, NSF has funded over 60,000 Graduate Research Fellowships out of more than 500,000 applicants. Currently, forty-two Fellows have gone on to become Nobel laureates, and more than 450 have become members of the National Academy of Sciences.

Rising seniors intending to apply for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship should contact UT’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships at Graduate students are encouraged to work with their departmental supervisors and the Graduate School.